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NAMI presents encore of polyvagal theory at The Commons

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — A special encore presentation of the polyvagal theory video featuring scientist Stephen Porges, PhD, will be held at The Commons at Central Hall at 1 p.m. on Thursday, June 13.

As the originator of the theory, Dr. Porges explains that we have the biological imperative to connect with one another because we cannot regulate our physiology in isolation. In short, we need each other to survive.

The theory arose following Dr. Porges’s many years of research concerning the two branches of the vagus nerve, which is the primary component of the autonomic nervous system. The dorsal branch of the vagus nerve emanates from one area of the brain to the lower gut while the ventral portion’s neural pathways lead to the heart and lungs. Both parts of the vagus nerve participate in what happens in the body during unsafe moments or danger, such as a pounding heart, cessation of digestion, or rapid breathing. Porges discovered that the vagus nerve is also directly related to communication and connection with the autonomic nervous system. It is this third finding that exemplifies the polyvagal theory.

When we feel unsafe or are in danger, we can use specific facial expressions, vocal tones and intonations, and yogic breathing techniques to regulate our heart and lungs to restore composure. Using these techniques helps others in crisis as well. Good social engagement and meaningful connections with others calms us and dampens our stress response and the stress response of others. The essence of the theory is about safety, meaningful relationships, trust, and connectedness. In a world of ever-present uncertainty, it behooves us to practice behaviors that reduce stress responses that adversely affect our physical and mental health. Learning how to connect with others in meaningful and loving ways is important.

Dr. Porges is a research professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a distinguished university scientist at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University-Bloomington, emeritus professor of psychiatry of the University of Illinois at Chicago and emeritus professor of human development at the University of Maryland-College Park.

You may have missed this program in December or you may have liked it so much that you want to see it again. Now you have a second opportunity to learn about the polyvagal theory to help yourself and others. To register for this free event, call 924-7903 or write nami.piscataquis@gmail.com.

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